Popular Japanese retail company, Muji, has been ordered to pay a compensation of US$89,000 (RM281,000) to Chinese company, Natural Mill, after losing an appeal to a trademark infringement case. The court has also ordered Muji to make a public apology regarding the incident.
The case in questioned was over the line “Wuyinliangpin” (“無印良品”), which the Japanese company filed for a trademark back in 2005 when they enter China’s market. The slogan covers most of the brands sold by the store, but certain textile products such as pillow cases, bed sheet and towel are not registered.
According to South China Morning Post, Chinese company Hainan Nanhua (owners of the store Natural Mill) had originally registered the trademark in 2001. The company would later transfer the name right to another company called Beijing Cottonfield Textile Corp. In 2015, the two companies would eventually work together to sue Muji for trademark infringement.
Muji previously acknowledged the right to the slogan that was held by the Chinese firm for the textile products. However, the Japanese company pointed out that they had registered almost all of their products under the name legally. This resulted in them filling for an appeal to the court in Beijing. Unfortunately, things weren’t in favour for Muji.
A hearing was held last month regarding the incident, with the China Supreme People’s Court in Beijing upholding the 2017 ruling. This means that Muji is forced to pay financial compensation for Beijing Cottonfield Textile Corp, with them also needing to issue a public apology for using the slogan for their online shops and retail stores.
It should be noted that China is Japan’s largest market outside of home soil. However, the store, Natural Mill, was widely considered to be a counterfeit brand modelled after Muji, with their pricing and products being very similar to the Japanese brand.
Source: South China Morning Post.